NewsEvents

Rutledge Encourages Database Implementation to Prevent Identity Theft

Says, ‘Identity theft is a scary reality for all of us’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that she has joined with 42 other states and the National Association of Attorneys General to send a letter to the Social Security Administration asking the acting commissioner to prioritize the implementation of a congressionally approved new database system that will help combat synthetic identity theft.

“As the enforcer of Arkansas’s privacy laws, every day I see the damage done to Arkansans who have been the victims of identity theft,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I am pleased to join with my colleagues from across the country urging the Social Security Administration to accelerate the creation of a database that will be used by financial institutions to verify the consumer’s information and prevent identity theft. Identity theft is a scary reality for all of us, but this is a simple solution to close a loop hole for Americans.”

“We ask you to evaluate and make necessary modifications to the Social Security Administration database and systems to comply promptly with this new provision of federal law. As enforcers of the data break laws in our jurisdictions, we see the impact that exposure of Social Security numbers can have. Our residents lose thousands of dollars a year and suffer from ruined credit scores, as well as a general sense of anxiety regarding their identities,” the attorneys general wrote in the letter.

Earlier this year, Congress passed a law directing the Social Security Administration to develop a revamped database that will verify consumer information at the time it is requested, with consumer consent. The improved database will help address “synthetic identity theft,” in which identity thieves use real Social Security numbers, along with fictitious names and birthdates, to manufacture identities. As the current system does not allow financial institutions to check identity on a real-time basis, the new database system would protect vulnerable consumers by preventing identity theft earlier.

Rutledge Obtains $1.63 Million Judgment Against NuCold Refrigeration

Says, ‘More than 200 consumers have experienced financial losses’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge obtained a judgment against NuCold Refrigeration Inc. and the owner, Jerry Collins of Plumerville, based on allegations that NuCold failed to provide goods or services after consumers had already paid, provided defective goods and failed to deliver goods or services by the promised date. NuCold also conducted business under the names of RV Fridge House and RV Icebox.

“More than 200 consumers have experienced financial losses by NuCold, Collins and his businesses,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Impacted consumers can be relieved to know that Collins and NuCold are being held responsible for unacceptable business practices. As the chief legal officer in the state, I am dedicated to protecting Arkansans from these types of deceptive business practices."

The judgment, which was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court, orders NuCold and Jerry Collins to pay $81,454.44 in restitution to consumers. Collins must also pay $10,000 in civil penalties for each violation, totaling $1,550,000. NuCold’s business license has been revoked and Collins has been barred from working in recreational vehicle refrigerator repair in the future.

Rutledge filed a consumer-protection lawsuit against NuCold in December 2016 after receiving a number of consumer complaints. This concludes a multi-year investigation into NuCold.

Rutledge Supports Barr’s Nomination for Attorney General

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced her support of President Donald J. Trump’s nominee for U.S. Attorney General William Barr.

“William Barr has a proven track record as the former Attorney General under President George H.W. Bush,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Barr is a committed public servant. In addition to work with the Department of Justice, he served in the Central Intelligence Agency and on the domestic policy staff at the Reagan White House. Barr’s experience and values make him the right fit for Attorney General.”

Rutledge Announces a Second Arrest in Connection to Little Bitty City Therapeutic Services

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the arrest of a Garland County man for Medicaid fraud. This arrest is in connection to an arrest made in November of Tonashae Echols, 33, of Hot Springs.

James E. Heritage II, 36, of Hot Springs was in charge of billing for Little Bitty City Therapeutic Services, and is accused of billing private insurance companies as well as the Medicaid program for services not rendered. According to the affidavit, Heritage lied about services therapists were providing and billed Medicaid for 693 claims, totaling $56,338.40 between October 1, 2016 and April 30, 2017. He is charged in Pulaski County with one count of Medicaid fraud, a Class B felony.

“Heritage is accused of stealing from insurance providers and the Medicaid program, which is a safety net for many Arkansans,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I will not tolerate this deceptive behavior from those who should be committed to helping children.”

Heritage is the brother of Echols, who was arrested in November as the Therapy Manager of Little Bitty City Therapeutic Services. Echols is accused of making false statements regarding her family’s income in order to receive Medicaid benefits for her children, and billing Medicaid through the business for services provided to her children from November 2015 through July 2017. She has been charged with one count of Medicaid fraud, a Class B felony.

Medicaid fraud occurs when providers use the Medicaid program to obtain money to which they are not entitled. To report Medicaid fraud or abuse or neglect in residential care facilities, contact the Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud hotline at (866) 810-0016 or oag@arkansasag.gov.

Rutledge Files Complaint Against Health Record Company for HIPAA Violations

More than 54,000 Arkansans affected

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that she, along with 11 other states, has filed a complaint against Medical Informatics Engineering Inc. (MIE) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. MIE and NoMoreClipboard LLC are web-based health record companies headquartered in Indiana who are accused of failing to protect patient user data.

“Arkansans put their trust in medical professionals across the state, who then trust data companies to protect the personal information of patients,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Medical Informatics did not provide that security and put the personal information of Arkansans at risk. It is important that data storage companies maintain the highest level of protections against hackers.”

The complaint alleges that MIE failed to implement basic industry-accepted data security measures to protect individual’s health information from unauthorized access, in part, by using generic accounts that could be accessed through the use of a shared password. The company violated provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) as well as violations of state deceptive trade practices law, notice of data breach statutes and personal information protection acts.

Between May 7, 2015 and May 26, 2015, hackers infiltrated WebChart, a web application run by MIE. The hackers stole the electronic health information of more than 3.9 million individuals, including names, telephone numbers, mailing addresses, usernames, passwords, security questions and answers, spousal information, email addresses, date of birth, social security numbers, lab results, health insurance policy information, diagnosis, disability codes, doctors’ names, medical conditions, and children's names and birth statistics.

The data breach affected 54,356 Arkansans.

This filing marks the first time state attorneys general have joined together to pursue a HIPAA-related data breach case in federal court.

In addition to Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina and Wisconsin filed the complaint.

Rutledge Reaches Settlement with Debt-Collection Company

Arkansans to receive more than $410,000 in debt relief

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that Arkansas has joined 42 other states and the District of Columbia in an agreement to settle illegal debt-collection practice accusations against Midland Funding.

“I want companies like Midland to think twice before using these tactics in Arkansas,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This settlement will make Arkansans whole after Midland violated both Arkansas and federal law through its deceptive practices.”

Between 2003 and 2009, Midland engaged in various debt-collection activities that harmed Arkansans, such as filing false affidavits in court proceedings, failing to verify debts as requested by consumers, attempting to collect debts that are legally unenforceable and signing affidavits of debts owed without reviewing the account. The settlement affirms that Midland is required to follow all Arkansas and federal debt-collection laws.

As part of the settlement, Midland will eliminate or reduce the judgment balances of more than 300 Arkansans, totaling about $410,000, in cases where Midland used an affidavit against them in court between 2003 and 2009. Midland will notify impacted consumers by mail of the balance reduction and no further action is necessary from the consumer. In addition, Midland will set aside $25,000 per state to compensate consumers who may have paid Midland money they did not owe.

January
23
Wednesday

Overdose Death Investigation and Prosecution Training

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Benton Event Center

Because the number of deaths resulting from overdoses of heroin and fentanyl has surged in recent years reaching epidemic proportions, this new, free course for law enforcement officers, prosecutors and coroners will cover:

  • Basic drug overdose death investigation techniques
  • Discuss legal requirements and issues involved in drug overdose death investigations
  • Address drug safety awareness particular to heroin and fentanyl
  • And highlight proper evidence handling and protocols

Topics will include:

  • Changing the mindset from accident to homicide
  • Responding to and investigating drug overdose deaths
  • Evidence to look for
  • Documenting the death scene
  • Electronic evidence: cell phones, social media and more
  • Witness and suspect interview techniques
  • Search and seizure issues
  • Legal theory and case development
  • Intelligence gathering and sharing
  • Officer safety when dealing with drugs like fentanyl
  • Case analysis

Lunch will be provided. For questions, email oag@ArkansasAG.gov.

Register online today.
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